Intro to Interface
To begin at the beginning.
How do we see Iron Man? That’s not a trick question; I mean it literally. What do we see and how do we see it? How is the film constructed and from whose point of view? Inexorably, the answer is Tony Stark’s. One of the major themes of the upcoming Iron Man 2 is summed up in Tony’s quote, “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one.” Following up on the first film’s final line, the quote speaks to the fusion of man and machine, the essentiality of technology to Tony’s identity, and the self-centeredness of his character. In fact, it can be said that Stark’s inherent narcissism is key to his success as Iron Man. Who else but Tony could have built the suit? He alone has the know-how, the wealth, the means and the will—his narcissism both creates the problems he faces and aids in overcoming them. But more on that last point later.
Back to seeing—view points, eyes, perspectives. Tony’s worldview (political, social, later skewed to humanitarian superheroics) and Tony’s literal, physical view (his ways of seeing). That brings us to the Iron Man Interface. The IMI as I’ll abbreviate consists of two basic elements: 1) the user face (UI) technology employed by Stark Industries and in Tony’s home(s), and 2) the heads-up display (HUD) in his Iron Man helmet. The first element is broad; it includes every aspect of Stark’s life and work: the windows of his mansion which serve double purposes as computer screens, his basement work stations replete with televisions, computer monitors, video-equipped robotics, and the most integral aspect of the Stark interface, his manservant-turned-A.I. deus ex machina, JARVIS (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System).
The second element is specific to Tony Stark. The HUD is an extension of his personality, his lifestyle (the HUD is connected to Tony’s electronic “home interface”), and a clear demonstration of his engineering genius. Although as we’ll see later that the IM HUD adapts military technology, in the film the only way Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) can subvert Tony is by stealing his arc reactor technology and implementing a parallel suit and HUD design. In essence, Tony's only enemies are his replicas--versions of himself gone bad. We'll revisit that theme again in later entries.